All posts filed under: Illustration

Radio Times covers from the late 70s/early 80s

Notebook: 8 January 2018 | MAGAZINES | ILLUSTRATION I’ve unearthed a bunch of old Radio Times covers that I saved from the late 1970s and early 1980s. I was a graphic design student at the time at Lanchester Polytechnic (Coventry) and then the Royal College of Art, and like many students, I would hang on to any odd bits of print graphics that I liked and tape them into a scrapbook. These simple but striking Radio Times covers (shown below) have stood the test of time well and are dated only by their white borders¹ and single cover line and picture². The Radio Times was art directed at the time by David Driver (1969-1981) who transformed the magazine from being a rather worthy, old fashioned ‘journal’ into a captivating and beautifully designed publication. Driver had a real grasp for visual journalism and he commissioned some of the best illustrators, photographers and information designers of the day. The Radio Times had always had a history of making use of top quality black and white line illustration³ …

Nesta

Notebook: 13 December 2018 | ILLUSTRATION We are creatures of habit. Our routines give our lives order and help keep us sane in this mad world. My mother Nesta always had coffee at 11 and dinner on the table by 1pm and everyday she would make dad a bowl of Bird’s custard to have with his pudding. Mum made her custard with a large spoonful of syrup: this was a hangover from the war when sugar was rationed – but it made the best custard ever and dad and myself would fight over who could scrape out the bowl. In about 2009 my niece, and Nesta’s granddaughter, Bridie Cheeseman, captured Nesta preparing her dinner, in a series of delicate paintings as part of a school art project. They are reproduced below. Bridie now works as an illustrator and you can see more of her work at bridiecheeseman.co.uk and on my blog. In memory of my mother Nesta. 19.12.1923 – 13.12.2014

A History of Fish in the Home

Notebook: 4 November 2017 | ILLUSTRATION I like fish. I like the way they look, I like the way they move and I like to eat them. Nigel Bents likes fish too. He’s an artist and in 1982 he produced a lithograph entitled A History of Fish in the Home. His print is a ‘montage’ of collected 1950s images of fish from old magazines, books, other printed ephemera and ceramics. I loved his print (pictured below), bought a copy from him and it has hung on our kitchen wall for the last 35 years or so. Nigel described the background and inspiration for his artwork and his continuing love for fishy things: I love fish and I loved 1950’s homes, hence the 1951 Antelope Ernest Race chairs abounding in the print. I was in my mid twenties, doing a postgraduate fine art printmaking course at Central School of Art; I spent two happy years doing 8-colour offset lithographs, gradually building up the colours from lighter to darker. I got the images from design annuals, old mags, comics, MAD …

Raw re-visited

Notebook: 11 August 2017 | ILLUSTRATION | COMICS I have a collection of old copies of the dazzling Raw magazine and their spin-offs – the Raw One-Shots. They were published by Raw Books and Graphics who were established in Manhattan in the late 1970s by New York artist and designer Art Spiegelman (who later went on to create Maus) and his French partner Francoise Mouly (now long-time art editor of The New Yorker magazine) and Raw magazine was a showcase for some of the best alternative illustrators and comic book artists of the time and it featured and brought well-deserved attention to artists such as Gary Panter, Mark Beyer, Charles Burns, Sue Coe, Jerry Moriarty and of course Spiegelman himself. The first eight issues (Volume 1) were large format and mainly black and white but with richly coloured card covers and often some sections on different paper stocks. The last three issues (Volume 2) were much smaller in size but a lot thicker and published by Penguin. I have every issue apart from the very first. The Raw One-shots …

George Hardie retrospective. Brighton Uni’, 11 March – 7 April 2017

Above: One of George Hardie’s earliest designs/illustrations produced when he was still a student at the Royal College of Art Notebook: 19 March | ILLUSTRATION | ILLUSTRATION HEROES As a student in the late 1970s, I became fascinated by the work of the graphic artist George Hardie. I collected tear-sheets of his work, wrote essays about him and even managed to wangle a visit to his studio in Covent Garden. I still love his hard-edged, ideas-based illustrations with their hidden twists. Hardie is a prolific artist and designer and a retrospective exhibition of his work entitled 50 Odd Years is currently showing at the University of Brighton (11 March – 7 April, 2017). The exhibition spans three rooms and is packed full of his work from across the decades – from his early album sleeve designs and drawings for rock bands such as Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Genesis and Pink Floyd, through to later work such as his ‘Magic’ stamps for the Royal Mail in 2005. It’s a fascinating collection and if you’re going to visit, give yourself lots of time to digest all the goodies on display. Unfortunately there …

Illustrator Melvyn Evans

Notebook: 15 January 2017 | ILLUSTRATION One of my favourite illustrator/artists is Melvyn Evans. He works with a variety of media, from traditional linocuts through to digital illustration using Adobe Illustrator, to produce a range of beautiful artwork much of which is inspired by the British landscape. What all Melvyn’s work has in common is his exquisite use of colour – sometimes solemn grey/brown tones such as the linocut Le Morte d’Arthur (based on tales of King Arthur, exhibited at RA summer show in 2014 and shown below), or brighter jewel-like colours that glow warmly against their earthy coloured neighbours as in The Wisdom for Hen Keepers (top) or Melvyn’s London scene (below). Some time ago I commissioned Melvyn to produce a map for a travel feature on Western Sweden for Saab magazine. His charming style, with echoes of 1950s children’s book illustration, reflected the mood of the article. (below) And more recently Melvyn produced an illustration for me – contrasting clickbait content with long form content – for a brochure for the content marketing agency Orwell. (Orwell [of whom I am a partner] provide influential content for intelligent organisations …

The NYT mag – less is more

Notebook: 13 January with updates 6 July 2017 | MAGAZINES On Sunday 1 January 2017 The New York Times Magazine ran a striking black and white photograph on its cover (by photographer Devin Yalkin). It was a close-up portrait of Sam Siatta, an ex US marine who after facing the horrors of war in Afghanistan, returned home to struggle with depression, alcohol dependency and PTSD. Alongside it a very small headline said simply: THE FIGHTER by CJ CHIVERS and three smaller headlines, carefully spaced apart down the left hand side of the photo stated: THE MARINE CORPS TAUGHT SAM SIATTA HOW TO SHOOT. THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN TAUGHT HIM HOW TO KILL. NOBODY TAUGHT HIM HOW TO COME HOME. It was brilliant journalism – a very simple but immensely captivating cover and a demonstration that with design, less is often much more – if a picture is striking then why clutter it with a large headline – let the picture do the talking, with a smaller, quieter headline adding to the drama. Some of my favourite NYT mag covers from 2016/17 are shown below and what they …

The Vanity of Small Differences

Pictured above: The artist Grayson Perry in front of one of his six tapestries that make up the series ‘The Vanity of Small Differences’ Notebook: 1 August 2016 | ART | ILLUSTRATION In 1962 my father changed jobs and we moved from our 1920s semi in Staffordshire to a light and modern detached house on a small estate on the outskirts of the prosperous market town of Newbury in Berkshire. The removal van was packed with all our possessions and we stuffed ourselves into Dad’s small blue Ford Popular and leaving the Midlands behind, set forth to begin our new life in the sunny south. The brand new house had central heating and was open plan with large picture windows. The light flooded in despite the heavy old curtains, carpets and dark furniture that had come with us from the old house. My mother loved the modern kitchen and she took a part time job at the hospital which helped fund the purchase of our first washing machine. Dad’s teaching job was supplemented by weekend work …

35 from 35: Part one

Notebook: 9 March 2016 | ILLUSTRATION 35 from 35. Part one: 10 commissioned illustrations from the 1980s Good editorial design is about more than just making a page look pretty – it’s about working with words and pictures to help tell a story or communicate a message. Those pictures might be photos, an illustration or an infographic and they will either be pictures that already exist and are sourced from a picture library for example, or they may be pictures that only exist in the designer’s mind and still have to be created from scratch by commissioning a photographer or illustrator. The artist will be carefully briefed and some time later (an hour, a day, a week) they will supply the designer with their picture. This is the moment of truth for the designer: hopefully they will have commissioned well, they’ll like what they’ve been sent and they’ll get a real buzz from the artwork and they’ll know how well it will help tell the story and how good it will make the page look. I’ve been an editorial designer …

Stickyscapes

Notebook: 21 January 2016 | ILLUSTRATION The publisher Laurence King produce some very nice books on art and design and some great children’s publications including their Stickyscapes series – more on those in a moment. First, does anybody remember Waddingtons’ Panoramas? They were popular with children in the late 60s/early 70s, cost 6/11 in old money (about 35p) and consisted of a long sheet of card that was printed on one side with a beautifully drawn panorama that might have been a Wild West landscape or an underwater scene or some other environment. They came with sheets of Letraset pictures – cowboys, fish or whatever – that the user would then rub down on to the panoramic background in their chosen place, to slowly build up their completed picture. They were designed by a company called Patrick Tilley Associates. I loved Panoramas and I can remember spending my pocket money on the five that were in the original series and that are shown below. You can read more about them here. (In the early 60s Patrick Tilley had also designed the charming Busy …